Release Date: April 21, 2000
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Harvey
Keitel, Bill Paxton, Jon Bon
Jovi, Jake Weber, & David
Genre: War Movie
Audience: Teenagers & adults
Runtime: 115 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Executive Producer: Hal Lieberman
Producer: Dino De Laurentiis & Martha De
Writer: Jonathan Mostow, Sam
Montgomery & David Ayer
Address Comments To:Edgar Bronfman, Jr., President/CEO
The Seagram Co.
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Phone: (818) 777-1000
Web Page: www.universalstudios.com
Set in 1942 when advances to Germany’s Enigma machine made German codes unbreakable for nine months, U-571 stars Matthew McConaughey as Lt. Andrew Tyler. Tyler’s submarine captain, Lt. Commander Mike Dahlgren (Bill Paxton), has passed over Tyler for advancement because he feels Tyler is not ready to make the life-and-death decisions which are necessary when leading men into battle. Tyler, of course, disagrees with his captain, who is also his mentor.
Their disagreement, and Tyler’s hurt feelings, are cut short by a special mission. Per the Admiral’s command, their ship, the SS-33, has been rigged to resemble a German U-boat, one of the National Socialist (Nazi) submarines which played havoc with Allied shipping lanes in the Atlantic Ocean. The Admiral orders them to rendezvous with what appears to be a stranded German submarine. Once there, they will pose as a German rescue sub, whereupon they will commandeer the stranded U-boat and capture the Enigma. An unexpected turn of events leaves a small group of the American trapped on the German sub, deep in hostile waters. Tyler takes command and tries to lead his men to safety before the Germans can discover what happened.
U-571 is a rousing submarine movie that may remind many viewers of great American submarine movies like THE ENEMY BELOW (1957) and RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP (1958). The movie is also similar, in the way it is shot, to the acclaimed German movie DAS BOOT, about the harrowing life of a German U-boat crew. Director Jonathan Mostow (BREAKDOWN), who wrote the original script for this movie, obviously has a flair for suspense and tense situations. Also, although his character has a very bad habit of using the “GD” word, Matthew McConaughey delivers an intense and strongly heroic, yet vulnerable, performance as the lieutenant who takes command in tragic circumstances. His performance is unforgettable.
U-571 deftly returns a more old-fashioned and ultimately more honorable spirit to the World War II movie, even when compared to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. It also contains some redemptive elements. At one point, for example, the Americans must release the body of one of their own dead men into the water to fool a German battleship. “His body is gonna save our lives,” one of the characters tells the other men. As the poor man’s body is released, another character says, “We commend his soul to God and commend his body to the deep.” Finally, at another crucial moment in the movie, one of the men sacrifices his life to save the rest of the crew, and their mission.
Adding to this redemptive worldview is the movie’s tasteful, but exciting, use of wartime violence. U-571 either cuts away from some of the more brutal violence, or it simply tones down the violence which it actually depicts. U-571 also includes no sex or nudity, although there are a couple verbal references to seeing women on shore leave, including one man who says he “consummated” his marriage.
Hence, this movie is truly a welcome relief, except for the PG-13 rated foul language. This regrettable aspect of the movie includes 14 strong profanities. Though they are exclamatory, they are really gratuitous and will offend Christians and Jews who take the Bible seriously.
U-571 deftly returns a more old-fashioned and ultimately more honorable spirit to the World War II movie, even when compared to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. It also contains some redemptive elements. At one point, for instance, the Americans must release the body of one of their own dead men to fool a German battleship. “His body is gonna save our lives,” one of the characters tells the other men. Adding to this redemptive worldview is the movie’s tasteful, but exciting, use of wartime violence. Hence, this movie is truly a welcome relief, except for the PG-13 rated foul language. This regrettable aspect of the movie includes 14 strong profanities. Though these profanities are exclamatory, they are really quite gratuitous